Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Floral Masters: Reconnecting with the growers and meeting Francoise Weeks

Jello Mold Black Night profile

Re-igniting my fondness and passion for arranging flowers these last two years has been quite a ride. The many wonderful people I've met and the various events I've been able to do flowers for have been experiences I'll forever take with me and the season's not even over yet! I've got at least two more weddings this year and I've been seriously thinking about adding this work to my already jammed-packed repertoire of services offered. And I'm seriously careful. LOL!

What brought me back to arranging flowers intensely was the simply fact that playing with flowers, local flowers from my own gardens, was becoming more recognized and the stories of small farmers/growers was something I related to and found inspiring. Thanks to Debra Prinzing and David Perry's fantastic book, "The 50-Mile Bouquet" followed up by Debra's "Slow Flowers", the arrangements I did for events at work or for my own enjoyment at home suddenly had value and meaning.

One grower I met and instantly clicked with was Diane Szukovathy of Jello Mold Farm. You might remember I paid her a visit in Spring of 2012 with some friends and learned about the basics of sustainable cut flower production. This mighty power-house of energy, knowledge and business sense is at it full speed with her partner Denis, who helps in every aspect of their remarkable operation.

It was definitely a treat to visit again during the peak of bloom and harvest:

Jello Mold Terry and Eric with Scabiosa
Scoping out a remarkable crop of Scabiosa atropurpurea  'Black Knight'/'Ace of Hearts'

Jello Mold Bouquet Composition in field
Walking down the rows with stunning roses underplanted with Nigella or Love-In-The-Mist. Looks stunning together

A personal favorite both in the garden and vase, Echinops ritro or the Blue Globe Thistle

Jello Mold Cafe Au Lait
Their most precious and lucrative crop (when earwigs haven't eaten the petals) is this elegant Dahlia called 'Cafe Au Lait'. It's said to be the most asked for flower by brides who see it in all the magazines.

Jello Mold Farm View
A view of the Cascade Range in the background as Jello Mold Farms erupts into bloom!

So if you take these flowers and have them assembled by artists, you instantly have an endeavor that's so rewarding and absolutely state-of-the-art. One such floral artist is the very well known, Francoise Weeks, who I had the GREAT pleasure of meeting during a recent trip down to Portland.

Visit Francoise's website and blog. It truly is remarkable what she's been able to create, but what's most inspiring is Francoise herself. From the moment she walked down her driveway to greet me, she was all smiles and warmly welcomed me to her studio.

And what a studio:

Weeks Workshop table
I was actually kind of surprised that she even had time to meet with me since it is wedding season and all. I was simply in awe just walking into this room and seeing for myself the exquisite work that she does.

Francoise had just completed a project and a collaboration with a professional photographer who captured these most unusual headpieces worn by models for a photo shoot worthy of a fashion magazine cover! Check out her blog about these pieces and, of course, the resulting photographs!

Gloriosa Head Piece
An elaborate headpiece composed of Abutilon, Gloriosa lilies, and a few begonia leaves in the rear

Garden Mix Head Piece
The best thing about her designs are the sheer number of botanical wonders she integrates into her work. Talk about detail, color, form and textures!!

Begonia Mask
A truly captivating mask using the absolute perfect variety of Rex Begonia!

Succulent Mask
Another mask, this time with a wide assortment of succulents all carefully glued on.

IMG_1890I would love to take part in one of her workshops and learn techniques to improve my own work. As brilliant as she is, she is also very kind, informative, and very generous woman. Scoffing at trends, making time to explore and share her knowledge and creativity, and having a love and respect for the medium she uses to create, Francoise is definitely someone the next generation can look up to.


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